[governance] Parminder's exchange with Bertrand

Jeremy Malcolm jeremy at ciroap.org
Thu Mar 4 03:23:53 EST 2010

On 04/03/2010, at 1:45 AM, Milton L Mueller wrote:

> some questions:
> 1. how many governments in the UN have democratic representation of their citizens?

A practice has emerged that democratic government is a prerequisite for the recognition of new states by the UN, at least.  The existing undemocratic states are, well, a work in progress (UNDEF is one programme promoting democratic processes globally).  Of course, very big questions about how representative democratic governments actually are, even in countries like the US.  Robert Dahl calls them "polyarchies", which is more accurate.

> 2. how many businesses organize for and support free markets?

It's not that they support free markets, but that (in the ideal case) they constitute free markets.  Thus their ideal role in governance is to help align market mechanisms and policy objectives; either to support those objectives, or to reshape them.  For example, either the market must adapt to inadequacies of copyright law in the online environment by producing a more workable business model, or policy makers will be pressured to counteract the market's failure to adapt through enacting stronger enforcement measures (see: ACTA).  Another example, either ISPs will implement policies of censorship at the behest of governments, or market forces will subvert this, and policy-makers will have to adapt to this reality (see: Google and China).  Participation of the private sector in multi-stakeholder governance lubricates this process of mutual adaptation.

> 3. how many CS organizations are nothing but receptacles for money generated either by govt or by business?

Almost all of them, I guess.  So, we are not as pure as the theory demands.  Neither are governments as democratic, nor the private sector as competitive.  Does that weaken the claims to legitimacy of multi-stakeholder governance?  Sure, just like democratic deficits at a national and (a fortiori) global level weaken the legitimacy (though not the formal authority) of domestic and international law.  What do we do about it?  We just keep going about making things better.  That's why we're here.

Jeremy Malcolm
Project Coordinator
Consumers International
Kuala Lumpur Office for Asia Pacific and the Middle East
Lot 5-1 Wisma WIM, 7 Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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